Hitting snooze

Effects and remedies of sleep deprivation

Student asleep in Calgary on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. Tough courses lead to student sleeping on SAIT campus. (Photo by Aly Khan/SAIT)

Student asleep in Calgary on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. Tough courses lead to student sleeping on SAIT campus. (Photo by Aly Khan/SAIT)

Students and sleep deprivation seem to go hand in hand.

When asking a classmate the cordial question of ‘how are you?’, it’s not rare to receive a response of ‘tired’ as opposed to the traditional ‘good.’

That’s because, according to a September 2016 study by the College Student Journal, students today do not get the minimum amount of sleep that is recommended.

Sleep is crucial to well-being and overall health, as it is “necessary to fight off infection, support the metabolism, perform well in school, and be effective at work,” the article said. 

“Sleep affects cognitive abilities. If you have to drive, [lack of sleep] can produce the same effects as intoxication,” said David Huett, a medical radiologic technology student at SAIT. 

Despite its importance, many students today forgo sleep for a variety of reasons.

For some, their lack of rest can be attributed to negative habits, like excessive gaming or too much binge-watching of their favourite Netflix originals.

For others, however, the demands of coursework, extracurricular activities and part-time jobs often play a role. 

Madison Bulych, a legal assistant student at SAIT, attributes her lack of sleep largely to “work and school.”

She, like many others, feels the effects of this deficiency in her everyday life. 

“Lack of sleep leads to not being able to focus,” she said.

As with many programs at SAIT, Bulych’s class schedule is predetermined, meaning that if 8 a.m. classes are what her schedule dictates, then 8 a.m. it is.

Greater self-determination in regards to scheduling, she believes, could help mitigate the issue to some degree. 

“More of a variety of class times could help,” said Bulych.

Even so, students can take proactive steps to better manage the amount of sleep that they get.

Prioritizing time management by building a strict, more disciplined schedule for oneself is a great way to cut down on wasted time that so often takes away from a good night’s rest.

Turning off, or simply putting away distracting devices earlier in the night, such as cellphones or game stations, can help take away the temptation to stay up excessively. In addition, it’s been proven that the brain is better able to shut-down in the absence of the blue light these devices give off, which is known to supress the production of melatonin and disrupt sleep patterns.

Lack of sleep may be linked in part to the stresses of student life, but students should be aware of the responsibility they have for getting to sleep on time.

Still, many students manage on little sleep, often by kicking the afternoon lethargy with caffeine. 

“On average I get between six to seven hours [of sleep],” said Huett. 

“Right now, for me, it is enough.”

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